October 2009

Royals not likely to pick up option on Crisp

Ten days after the World Series the Royals have to make decisions on their players with contract options and that includes catcher Miguel Olivo and center fielder Coco Crisp.

It’s a club option on Crisp and it doesn’t take any genius to figure the Royals won’t pick up an $8 million deal on a guy who went through surgeries on both shoulders last season. It’ll cost the club $500,000, of course, to pass. The Royals liked what they saw, even with Coco not at full strength early on, and it’s logical that they might make him a free-agent offer at a much lower base rate with a lot of incentives, depending largely on the amount of playing time, built in. Crisp seemed happy here, too, so that could happen if his medical reports are good later this offseason.

It’s a mutual option on Olivo’s $3.3-million contract and a good guess would be that he’ll become a free agent and take his chances. There are few names on the potential free agent list that jump out in the catching department and general manager Dayton Moore admits:  “Olivo sees that, too, and the free agent market could be very lucrative for him.”

Anyway the Royals want to re-cast their whole confusing situation behind the plate. Olivo was supposed to be the regular and he did start 97 games and was Zack Greinke’s very successful batterymate. And he did lead the club with 23 home runs. But there were a lot of pitches getting through and skipping past him. Despite a strong arm Olivo caught just 17 of 73 base-stealers, 19 percent. John Buck started 41 games, his hitting never took off and, despite his other defensive plusses, runners took advantage and swiped 40 bases in 48 tries. There was even an experimental period with Brayan Pena (24 starts) and he seemed a promising hitter but a catcher who needed a crash schooling course before games. So, with such uncertainty, maybe the Royals just need a new start behind the plate. Then again, it’s a skimpy market out there.

— Dick Kaegel

 

KCatBat: Early rounds are going to Zack

Now here’s something that you might have missed: The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has decided that Zack Greinke should win the American League Cy Young Award. This is a group of 89 bloggers that took a vote and made Zack the overwhelming winner over the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. In fact, Greinke got all the first-place votes among the 19 blogs that voted for the AL winner.

There was good news in the Sporting News’ selection of Greinke as its Pitcher of the Year because that publication’s winner has been the same as the AL Cy Young winner since 1995.

An award is also waiting for Zack in Kansas City from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which picked him as winner of the AL Bullet Rogan Award. The NLBM’s annual awards dinner comes in January.

At any rate, the preliminary rounds of pitching awards seem to all be going to Greinke. If he doesn’t win the Cy Young on Nov. 17, it’s going to be a surprise.

Royals Billy Butler and Mark Teahen are among a group of 53 athletes nominated for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service through an agreement with All Stars Helping Kids. Fans can vote through Nov. 15 at www.allstarshelpingkids.org/teammates. It’s always good for folks to chime in with votes for our boys.

— Dick Kaegel

KCatBat: Billy, Zack are Player, Pitcher of Month

No surprise at all about the Royals’ top awards for September and a little piece of October. Billy Butler was the Player of the Month and Zack Greinke was Pitcher of the Month. Butler, of course, was named the American League’s top player for September and Greinke was a runner-up to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez as AL top pitcher.

Billy batted .330 in 30 games during that September-October period with 10 doubles, six homers and 26 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .422. And, of course, he made his mark by becoming the first Major Leaguer since 1900 to have four games of three doubles each in a season. That fourth game came on Sept. 9 against the Tigers. He also had a 4-for-5, two-homer game in which he drove in all the runs in a 9-4 loss to the Twins on Sept. 25.

Zack went 4-2 in six starts with a 1.38 ERA. In 39 innings, he had 40 strikeouts and gave up 30 hits and 11 walks along with six earned runs. Opponents hit just .213 against him. The big disappointment, of course, was not getting his 17th victory in his last start against the Twins. He gave up four runs in that game but just three runs (two earned) in the previous five starts.

Another fitting honor for the final month was Joakim Soria being named winner of the Majors’ Delivery Man of the Month Award. During September he had 10 saves in 10 chances and pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings in a total of 12 games. That’s a big turnaround from his halting start which involved a stiff shoulder and time on the disabled list. Soria was happy with his 30 saves especially in light of the down time because of the shoulder and the limited save situations that came up. Soria, by the way, did not pitch in the October games.

Sorry to see John Mizerock leaving as the Royals’ bullpen coach. He logged something like 18 years in the organization and was an upbeat, fun guy who’ll be missed. He was good teacher of catchers, too, and Mike Sweeney always credited “Rock” as the guy who spurred his rise to the Majors when both were in the Minors. . . . In a front-office development, the Royals hired Michael Bucek to be vice president of marketing and business development. He’s coming from the Phoenix Coyotes in hockey but has 17 years in baseball including eight years with the White Sox and six with the Brewers. He’s a Chicago guy. . . . Top draft pick Aaron Crow is at the Arizona Instructional League in Surprise but, last we heard, he had not yet pitched in a game.

–Dick Kaegel